General Principles

A special session on academic honesty was developed with the help of the librarians who helped compile and field test some of this material and with the contributions of several generous colleagues, notably Sam Powell, Carol Blessing, Becky Havens, and Greg Crow all of whom spent time thinking about this topic in order to bring a variety of ideas to the discussion floor. 

Below are the seven basic points that emerged from our wide-ranging discussion. In addition there is a general description of material developed both by the CTL and the library. 

1) Dishonesty is on the rise

across the nation with some alarming statistics on the percentage of high school students who have cheated. This data is of importance to us because the primary factor that predicts whether a student will cheat is whether that student has cheated before. 

2) Modern technology has made cheating easier

with a proliferation of Internet sites offering papers for sale. Technology has also complicated our lives with palm pilots, pagers, pager watches and other small devices that can be used for text messaging or for information storage. 

3) Always follow through on a dishonesty incident.

If you catch a student being dishonest, doing nothing is not only unfair to all the other students who are being honest, but it risks teaching your dishonest student that crime does pay and makes it more likely that dishonesty will occur. Assuming that dishonesty does not occur in your class will not make it disappear and may, in fact, encourage it. 

4) Always follow university procedure on a dishonesty incident.

In the case of PLNU, that procedure means documenting the incident, meeting with the student, sending a report of the incident to your area dean and then on to the Provost. Following this procedure allows PLNU to intervene early in the case of repeat offenders. Remember: this is a kindness to the student, not a punishment. A habit of dishonesty may end up ruining a student’s life in ways that are far more profound than a bad grade in your class or even being expelled from PLNU. Helping students learn to be honest is investing in their lives. 

5) Handle students with grace and redemption.

Students need to know that dishonesty will be dealt with seriously, but that students can re-take a class without fearing that the professor will be against them because of a past cheating incident. We should be ready to reward students when they behave responsibly. But forgiveness does not mean rescuing from consequences. If that is all that the student learns from a cheating episode, it may be a valuable lesson by itself. 

6) Be wise.

Create classroom circumstances that reduce students’ opportunity for cheating. Many of these are listed in the documents put into the CTL folder. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Being very clear about your expectations in your syllabus and about consequences for cheating
  • Minimizing chances for cheating on exams by careful proctoring and by use of alternate exams
  • Remaining alert to possible plagiarism on papers and always following through with some research to discover an unauthorized source

7) Be honest.

Although a professor’s behavior can never guarantee that a student will be honest, professors can not only reduce the opportunities for cheating, but also increase the expectations of integrity in a class by the integrity and fairness of their own behavior. Students will be more motivated to behave responsibly for a professor who himself or herself behaves with integrity, treats students respectfully and handles all classroom matters fairly, always keeping the good of the students in mind. It is hard to combine the vigilance necessary to be wise in managing your class with the trust needed to establish a supportive, collegial atmosphere. But honest students are as upset by the dishonesty of their peers as we are and learning to be alert yet warm will only serve, in the long run, to make your class a safer place to be for all. 

Materials on Academic Dishonesty

1) In the file named Common Forms of Academic Dishonesty is a list of the ways that students most often attempt to cheat or plagiarize.

 2) In the file named Dishonesty On Exams is a list of suggestions about how to detect or prevent cheating on exams. 

3) In the file named How to Detect Plagiarism is a list of suggestions about how to detect or prevent plagiarism. 

4) In the file named Resources for Finding the Source of Plagiarism is a list of varied Internet resources available to deal with plagiarism. These sources include the following:

  • Web sites that define the problem and that offer links to sites offering up-to-date solutions.
  • A few sites with good honor codes and academic integrity statements.
  • A short list of some of the best prevention and detection resources and software available on the web.
  • The best search engines for detection of plagiarism.
  • A brief selection of the most frequently used sites for student papers, both free and paying. Often you may be able to actually do a search on this site for the paper you suspect of being other than the student’s work.

5) In the file named Student Survey on Dishonesty are forms that you are free to download and adapt to your own use. The forms are as follows:

  • A survey that you can give your students to find out what actions they feel constitute academic dishonesty serious enough to merit an F in the course or the assignment. The questions here are exhaustive but you should feel free to simply edit out ones you do not wish to use.
  • A survey that you can give students on what circumstances they feel justify dishonesty. Both this survey and the previous one could be given as homework assignments and become the basis of a follow-up discussion with students. They would also help serve as detailed information on what behaviors you will consider cheating.
  • A set of questions designed to help you detail exactly what kinds of collaboration you would recommend and what kinds you would see as dishonest. Given differences between individual professors and disciplines, there is a wide variance here around campus and being very clear would help students know exactly what behaviors are recommended in each class.

All the forms in this file are designed for you to adapt for your specific needs. If you wish to download one of these files, please go to the CTL folder found in the shared faculty folder on Socrates. Download the files and edit them as you see fit. 

6) In the file named Technological Tools for Dishonesty is a very brief list of some of the newer tools and what they can do. It will, of course, be out of date in an alarmingly short time, but it can give you an idea of some of what is available to students. 

7) Finally, the file named Fostering Integrity lists positive things a professor can do to develop a classroom atmosphere that encourages responsible student behavior.